[smc-discuss] WhatsApp and mental torture in school communities

Pirate Praveen praveen at onenetbeyond.org
Sat Jun 6 10:04:12 PDT 2020

On Sat, Jun 6, 2020 at 10:09 pm, Nandakumar Edamana 
<nandakumar at nandakumar.co.in> wrote:
> You've already convinced me. It's about convincing the community. But 
> we
> have to do it.

That is the challenge, yes.
>>>  What I think now needs is a drop-in alternative for WhatsApp or 
>>> nobody
>>>  would be ready to try. Govt hosting a Signal instance is one 
>>> solution,
>>>  and the other I suggested is using the official Signal for the time
>>>  being. Does your recommendations qualify the "drop-in alternative 
>>> for
>>>  WhatsApp" criteria? I'm asking this because I've little knowledge 
>>> in
>>>  mobile chat apps.
>>  The use of WhatsApp is to send messages in groups, group for each
>>  class where parents and students are there. Why do we need exact
>>  replacement of WhatsApp?
> By a "drop-in replacement", I mean as friendly as it is.
>>  Was GNU/Linux and exact replacement for Windows when we switched to
>>  GNU/Linux in schools?
> No, but both are at least operating systems. So if people like a chat
> app, what we suggest as an alternative should also be a chat app.

Matrix is a chat protocol and there are many chat apps that works with 
matrix. Riot is the most popular and feature complete app. There is 
Fluffy Chat which is said to be more user friendly than riot (I have 
not tested it yet, just installed it). There is nheko and fractal on 
the desktop. Basically, being Free Software we can always make it 

If you want convenience and Freedom and you start with convenience, you 
will never have both. But if you start with Freedom, you can always 
make it convenient.

>>  Do you think WhatsApp to a matrix client will be a harder switch 
>> than
>>  GNU/Linux to Windows?
> I don't know. I don't even know what Matrix is (I've tried reading 
> about
> it at times, but I lost).

This another problem, many in the Free Software community willing to 
give up Freedom in the name of communicating with others (I'm not 
saying stop using WhatsApp immediately, but they refuse to use Matrix 
even to communicate with other Free Software users and hence they don't 
even consider Matrix as an option when it comes to recommending it to 
others, like you are doing now - how can I recommend something I don't 

When it comes to using software for daily use, they let their contacts 
who don't care about Freedom to make the choice. Yes running multiple 
clients may drain your battery more and eat more disk space, but if 
people who are not convinced about Freedoms don't take the extra effort 
to promote these apps, who will do it?

This love towards convenience over freedom among the Free Software 
community is what is making us lose the battle. In the early days of 
GNU/Linux, it was chosen for freedom and not convenience and it was 
very hard to get GNU/Linux installed on a machine, still people 

>>  In Kerala, switch to GNU/Linux happened not because teachers thought
>>  it would be easier, but they were convinced by the philosophy and 
>> they
>>  were willing to take the effort to fix all the problems. If you are
>>  trying to sell convenience, we already lost the battle.
> I admire these words. But my personal policy is, if the convenient
> alternative you have is libre, promote it first and let them know 
> about
> other (more) libre solutions eventually. This is not about installing 
> OS
> on school machines where you can talk about philosophy; this is about
> installing apps on one's phone. What if one says "it's my phone and I
> don't care about freedom and privacy"? We still lost the battle.

I'm comparing the level of difficulty here. Is it technically harder to 
click on install button in play store than install GNU/Linux on a 

This is the problem with selling convenience, even slight efforts are 
frowned upon.

> The only reason I'm still appearing in favor of Signal (or any similar
> centralized solution) is that, we need a drop-in replacement, like 
> right
> now, just to mention while arguing against WhatsApp. The final 
> solution
> of course would be developing or hosting a custom platform, but first 
> we
> need some "proof of concept" to show.

In that approch, people will be stuck on Signal. I have seen this as 
people stuck on Telegram and not moving over to Matrix when it was 
available. Matrix works well and already have many client 

>>>  BTW, from what I've learned, Telegram has an extremely bad 
>>> reputation
>>>  when it comes to security and privacy, despite being libre at the
>>>  client-side. Is there any reason for anyone to prefer Telegram over
>>>  Signal?
>>  People use it as a file sharing app, I think they allow upto 2GB 
>> files
>>  to be shared. Also it can be bridged to Matrix so you are not forced
>>  to use Telegram to participate in telegram groups.
> Thanks for the info.

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